YouTube's New Friend Request Spam

Discussion in 'In The News' started by roundabout, Apr 28, 2011.

  1. roundabout

    roundabout VIP

    Feb 17, 2011
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    YouTube enters Facebook territory with Friend Request Spam

    Written by Ed Fisher.
    I tend not to use Facebook. I have an account on it, but it just seems a little too schwarmy for me. But I am not against social networking. I blog, I tweet, I have a YouTube account. And that is what I want to talk about today. Something has changed recently with YouTube. I have had my account on YouTube since before Google bought them, and I have never received any email from another YouTube user. However, I have received (at the time of this writing) ten emails from “YouTube Service” that can only be described as spammy. They are all ‘friend requests’ from users I have never heard of, using user names that in an email or tweet would scream spammer.

    An increasing number of these ‘friend requests’ are starting to hit inboxes of registered YouTube users everywhere. These requests come with the topic “username has invited you to become friends.” Maybe YouTube thinks it’s Facebook now, or is at least trying to jump on the bandwagon of letting users ‘friend’ one another. It stands to reason, considering they have a like button already. These messages are relayed through the YouTube service, so they are not exposing your email address to spammers, but the friend request is about as spammy as any other. Much like email spam, the username contains a string of numbers.

    Clicking on the hyperlinked username is safe. It takes you to the YouTube page to see the sender’s profile. Common to all of these, the users have a number of friends, but no videos available. In their profile is a link to their website, and that is what you need to be wary of.

    These links are either obfuscated with a link shortening service, or they can be links to a blogger page that then redirects to another site, which invariably is either a spam site trying to sell you something, or worse, a compromised or malicious site that tries to infect your computer with malware.

    Email admins may want to consider adding the string “has invited you to become friends on YouTube” to their word lists, and raise awareness amongst their users to help them protect their personal computers from these tactics. In addition to raising awareness of this with your users, friends, and family, there are some steps you can share with them which they can take to help reduce the amount of noise hitting their inbox from YouTube, and to counter the activities of these.

    1. If you get one of these messages, check the user’s profile to see if you know them and be very careful about clicking any links on their page. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
    2. If the request is obviously spam, click the report spam link in the friend request.
    3. Update your Privacy settings on your account. You can restrict search and contact settings to allow only friends to send messages or share videos, and to only let others find your channel on YouTube if they have your email address. Of course, if you are trying to increase viewership you won’t want to do this, and it won’t block friend requests, but it will prevent other spam messages being sent through YouTube.

    If you have a YouTube account, have you started to see these messages hit your inbox?

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